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Intersection: Bringing Performing Arts To The Heart Of A Community

Joshua Vickery and Leah Porrata. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

The Central Florida Community Arts is expanding with the launch of a new School of the Arts. The goal is to bring the arts to underserved communities, including people facing physical and cognitive disabilities and homeless youth.

The idea become a reality in 2016 after discussions with the Winter Park Health Foundation and the Universal Orlando Foundation.

"We had a conversation on how we can reimagine this school of the arts to create even more arts and education and outreach opportunities," says Joshua Vickery, founder and executive director of CFC Arts.

Classes at the physical school will begin to roll out in the next couple of weeks along with the outreach programs. Their outreach programs will stretch across three counties on 40 different campuses. Programs depend on the population being served.

"We are really fortunate to be able to serve a number of different groups of people who need the arts, who have that barrier there because of an issue with their wellness," says Leah Porrata, senior director of Education and Outreach.

Porrata says they're serving those with dementia, autism, children with motor disabilities and other mental or physical barriers. A dance program is being developed for those with Parkinson's disease that "marries music therapy with dance."

"It's all beautiful and it's really an enchanting experience to watch and it's so valuable for the people who are getting to experience the arts through it," Porrata says.

"The way that we're approaching this is that we're integrating arts experiences with other partners that deal with that type of marginalized population," Vickery says.

This school is "paving new grounds" in the realm of arts and wellness by partnering with organizations that are educated in the specific population, like the Down Syndrome Association or Lighthouse Central Florida that works with the visually-impaired.

"We want to make sure we're approaching every single individual with the utmost care. When we talk about arts and wellness, we want to be careful that this is not a therapy. It's not arts and medicine, it is well-being in what we're doing," Vickery says.

"We have hundreds and hundreds of testimonies of people where literally the arts have been a life raft, or life preserver, and have saved their life and it's brought such joy back to the arts," Vickery says.

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